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72, 74 note, 76. The letter is dated xiii, 231.

Montioello, April 24, 1796. Jefferson's 4 See J. Fairfax McLaughlin's Mat-

earlier letter is printed in ibid., vii, 69. thew Lyon, The Hampden of Congress

• See Alexandria GaeetU, February (New York, 1900) ; Annate of Congress,

18, 1797. 8th Cong., 2nd Sess. v 1126.



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CHAPTER VH

AN INTERLUDE

Between the acts of the political and financial drama in
America, the X, Y, Z affair and the quasi-war with France
came on the stage to add to the strain of domestic strife.
When James Monroe arrived at Paris in August, 1794, he
found the French Revolutionary kaleidoscope turning with
great rapidity. He took a most fraternal tone toward the
powers that happened to be at the moment; but found
it difficult to keep up with the ever changing colors and
arrangements of parties. Revolutionists of every hue were
hungry for money, partly to Kne their own pockets and
partly to wage war against surrounding enemies. French-
men had helped the American people to get on their feet,
and to thrust out their ancient governor. Why should
not they reciprocate and aid their fellow-citizens of France
in dealing another stroke at perfidious Albion and all its
-allies? It would be undesirable for them to take an open
part in the conflict on the side of France, because the mo-
ment their neutral character was violated the navies of
Britain would put an end to their supplying Frenchmen with
food. Would it not be possible for the United States to
anticipate payment of the rest of the debt still owing to
France and, perhaps, even to lend their fellow republicans
some new money? Monroe apparently left the United
States with assurances from Randolph, who was then Sec-

176



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MONROE IN FRANCE 177

retary of State, that Jay's mission to England had no other
purpose than to put an end to the existing friction with
that country. French spies at London reported that the
new treaty would not be so innocuous as Monroe asserted.
He applied to Jay for information. This Jay was per-
fectly willing to give, provided Monroe would keep it to him-
self ; but this was precisely what Monroe could not and
would not promise to do. When the treaty was published,
Pickering sent it to him with a long despatch directing him
to assure the French authorities that it had nothing to do
with previous treaties and to lay before them a long list of
grievances on the part of Americans against France. In-
stead of doing this, Monroe tried to palliate what seemed to
him to be the ill faith of his superiors at Philadelphia and
their envoy at London. There was a good deal to be said
for the French view of the treaty, for any settlement of the
existing friction between the United States and Great
Britain would be of assistance to the latter and, therefore,
hostile to the interests of France. Moreover, although Jay's
Treaty contained a clause saying in so many words that none
of the new conditions in it were to interfere with the obli-
gations of preexisting treaties, the arrangement that the
British might seize provisions on their way to France on ]/&
condition of making payment was likely to be of great
service to Britain and correspondingly harmful to France.
It was difficult for Monroe to explain away this actual,
though not technical, extension of the rule as to contra-
band. The suggestions that were made as to supplying
money to the Revolutionary cause seemed to him to be
reasonable ; but the ceaseless fallings of the guillotine had
alienated the sympathies of great numbers of persons in
America and had made Americans unwilling to give aid
and comfort to the French revolutionists. Gouverneur

VOL. IV. — n



i*



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178 AN INTERLUDE [Ch. VII

Morris reported to the Federalist leaders the weakness of
Monroe's action. 1 They, after their habit, put pressure
upon Washington to remove him and appoint another
person who would ascertain the views of the French gov-
ernment and faithfully report them to the President.

Washington yielded to the promptings of Hamilton and
Pickering, recalled Monroe (August, 1796), and sent in his
place Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, 8 —
a stiff-necked Federalist. As between Britain and France
all his predilections were for the former, for he and his
brother, Thomas Pinckney, had been educated at West-
minster School and had grown up in intimate intercourse
with Englishmen. Thomas Pinckney, in 1795, had been
in Paris on his way to Madrid. He had with him a copy of
the project of Jay's Treaty, but did not show it to Monroe.
He also held himself aloof from the French authorities and
did his own negotiating in Spain without asking their
intercession. Charles Coteswo rth Pinckney was one of
the best exampIe Tot tne Soutnern slave-holding aristocracy,
but his appointment at this precise moment to tKe' French
mission was most unfortunate. Washington might as well
have sent Jay or Hamilton to Paris in 1796 as to have sent
him there. Pinckney landed at Bordeaux, and made the
best of his way to the French capital, which he reached

1 See letters from Hamilton to Wash- 383. In the "Washington Manu-

ington in the Library of Congress, scripts" in the Library of Congress,

One of these is dated May 5, 1796 ; there is a copy of this paper containing

the other has no date, but is indorsed Washington's own comments on Mon-

as received on June 23, 1796. For a roe's statements. This is printed in

more favorable view of Monroe's Sparks's Washington t xi, 604. It is one

early diplomatic career, see Beverly of the few documents wherein Wash-

W. Bond's "The Monroe Mission to ington does not seem to be entirely dis-

France" in Johns Hopkins University ingenuous and possibly reflects the

Studies, xxv, 55. Monroe's own ac- impairment of his faculties upon which

count is in his View of the Conduct of his enemies so frequently insisted during

the Executive in Foreign Affairs of the his presidency.

United States (Philadelphia, 1797). This * James Monroe's View of the Con-

is reprinted in Writings of Monroe, iii, duct of the Executive, 392.



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1796] ADAMS'S CABINET 179

early in December. The Directory was now in power.
It refused to have anything to do with him and gave
increased point to its refusal by an affectionate adieu to
Monroe. Relations with France were in this trim when
Washington handed over the administration of the govern-
ment to Adams.

Schism in the Federalist party was probably inevitable.
Adams personified the opposition to militarism in any
form, — standing armies, or the existence of an official or
semi-official military clique. Hamilton, Pickering, and
McHenry had either been in Washington's military family
or on his staff. They naturally looked to him and not to
Adams, who had persistently opposed in the old days
nearly every proposition that they had thought was neces-
sary for the efficiency of the army. Next to Washington,
or possibly even before him in the minds of Pickering and
McHenry, was Hamilton, who had bound to himself by
the brilliancy of his genius and the charm of his personal
manner a small but extremely faithful band of followers.
Pickering was Secretary of State and McHenry Secretary
of War. The Secretary of the Treasury was Oliver Wol-
cott. He had not served in the Revolutionary War, but
belonged to a coterie of Connecticut men who were very
close to the army. Wolcott was a person of fair ability and
skilled in routine ; Pickering was a most industrious second-
rate character; while McHenry was distinctly third-class.
In all matters of policy they looked to Hamilton for in-
spiration. Adams committed the blunder of retaining
t hese men in offic e. Probably in view of the still existing,
confusion as to party government, he did not in any way re- [
gard himself as the official head of the Federalist party and I
still less could he have looked upon himself as the chief of I
a group or clique. These men had served Washington well.



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180 AN INTERLUDE [Ch. VII

Why should they not serve him equally well? Nowadays,
we Tecognize that it was Washington's personality that
made it possible for him to consult Hamilton, make Hamil-
ton's suggestions his own, and work in harmony with men
who likewise in every event consulted the same oracle. 1
Adams should have recognized that he was not Washing-

(ton and must necessarily adopt other methods and work
with other men ; but it is exceedingly di fficult for an y one
to realize his own limitations. Before leaving this part of
the subject, it seems desirable to say that Adams must have
been fully cognizant of the part played by Hamilton. For
eight years he had been close to the actual administration
and could hardly help knowing that Hamilton was con-
sulted on all important matters, not only by Washington,
but by the Heads of Departments. Nor was there anything
strange or out of the way in thus appealing for aid to the
man of greatest intellect and insight within the Federalist
ranks. When the time came for Adams to prepare his first
message to Congress, he asked the Heads of Departments
and the Attorney General for suggestions as to what should
be put into it. Wolcott and McHenry at once wrote to
Hamilton and, on receiving his reply, incorporated his ideas
into their own answers to Adams's request, and Adams re-
peated a part of them in his speech to the two Houses.
This was almost exactly what Washington had done time
and again. There does not seem to have been any at-
tempt at concealment, and any one as familiar with Ham-

1 As an example of the position as- ardour of the President's mind, and

sumed by Hamilton and accorded to this specimen of the effects of that

him by the leading Federalists, the ardour, I begin to be apprehensive that

following extract is given from his letter he may run into indiscretion. This

to Oliver Wolcott, dated New York, will do harm to the government, to the

June 5, 1798 : "Hitherto I have much cause, and to himself. Some hint must

liked the President's answers. ... be given, for we must make no mis-

But there are limits which must not be takes." George Gibbs's Administrations

passed, and from my knowledge of the of Washington and John Adams, ii, 50.



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1797] FEDERALIST DIVISIONS 181

ilton's mode of reasoning as Adams must have been, must
have known whence these suggestions came, and recognized
them. As to the other side, the Hamiltonians, who formed
the only organization that the Federalist party had, advo-
cated Adams's election, because he was the only candidate
whom the Federalists could possibly have elected. They
knew his foibles and all the weaknesses of his character be-
fore the election. Having ranged themselves behind him,
they should have given him their most loyal and thorough
support.

Soon after Adams's inauguration, the newspapers printed
letters to the effect that the French Directory would not
receive Pinckney. 1 Already, Adams had thought of send-
ing Jefferson to Paris 2 and no fitter appointment could
possibly have been made. The project was opposed by
Pickering and was vetoed by Jefferson himself. Con-
sidering the relationship of the Vice-President to the suc-
cession and the difficulty of trans-Atlantic communication
in those days, it would doubtless have been unwise and
perhaps against the spirit of the Constitution for the Vice-
President to have gone so far away from the seat of gov-
ernment. It is interesting to speculate, nevertheless, as
to what might have happened had Jefferson, with his ex-
perience with Frenchmen, his sympathy for the rights of
man, and his great power of dealing with individuals, gone
to France, — all the troubles of the next few years might
have been avoided. And had Adams and Jefferson worked
together in a non-partisan administration, how different the
history of the next few years might have been ! But the
Hamiltonians would have none of it and Adams, instead of
then asserting himself, yielded to the wishes of those who

1 See The Columbian Mirror and AU April, 1707, Worke of John Adam*,
exandria Gazette, March 15, 1797. viii, 538.

1 Adams to Gerry, Philadelphia, 6



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182 AN INTERLUDE [Ch. VII

had placed him in office. It is difficult to account for his
untimely meekness. He may have felt some of the same
misgivings that had influenced Washington eight years
earlier as to his administrative ability. It is certain that
the serious illness of Mrs. Adams greatly affected him,
for she had for many years been his chief counsellor. The
perusal of hundreds of pages of printed matter and a mass
of manuscripts has served to relieve John Adams of much
of the prejudice that an acquaintance with the annals of
his earlier life and the most unfortunate literary perform-
ances of his later years had left on the present writer's
mind. Whether he was chastened by his wife's illness, or
whether he was mellowed by the responsibility of his high
office, he certainly subordinate d his, opinions. jfrCL thos e of
JHcker ing an <L_the rest, placed responsibiiiti^ uppn them
which very likely they should not have borne, had no sus-
picion of their good faith, and showed truly marvellous
patience under great provocation.

The appointment of Jefferson being out of the question,
it was determined 1 to send a commission to Paris to be
composed of three members, one of them being Charles C.
Pinckney. For the others, Adams selected John Marshall
of Virginia, and Francis Dana of Massachusetts: Mar-
shall accepted, but Dana refused to go. Adams, there-
upon, suggested the appointment of his old friend and fel-
low-worker, Elbridge Gerry. His services in Congress and
in the FederaT ConvfeflllUir had been great, but as Repre-
sentative from Massachusetts he had voted against some
of the Hamiltonian measures and was not trusted by the



1 On March 20, 1707, Adams asked questions. It was in conformity with

the three Secretaries and the Attorney these opinions that Adams appointed

General to take into consideration our the first Commission and prepared their

relations with France and report in instructions. "John Adams Manu-

writins their opinions on fourteen stated scripts ' ' under date.



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1797] THE COMMISSION TO FRANCE 183

Federalists. Pickering opposed the appointment, Adams
insisted upon it, and Gerry was confirmed by the Senate.
Marshall and Gerry crossed the ocean, were joined by
Pinckney, and on October 5, 1797, announced their arrival
to the Directory. 1 The moment was most inopportune.
Just a month earlier, the Directory had been revolutionized
by the ejectment of its more moderate members. The
battles off Cape St. Vincent in February and off Camper-
down in this very month of October temporarily put an
end to continental sea-power; but French armies had
been victorious on land* and time had not diminished
French resentment against the negotiation of Jay's Treaty.
This feeling had been heightened by the seeming acquies-
cence of the United States in the most recent British Order
in Council directing the capture of ships carrying provisions
to the Continent. Rufus King had by this time succeeded
Thomas Pinckney as minister to England. He was soon
on most friendly terms with Grenville. The British were
capturing American provision ships, right and left, and
British Admiralty courts in the West Indies were enforcing
Jay's Treaty as to contraband with the utmost rigor and,
^indeed, without justification. On the other hand, the Brit-
ish were paying for the confiscated provisions and also for
the freight of the captured vessels, and Grenville was doing
everything in his power to restrain the activities of the
West Indian prize courts.

1 See American State Paper*, Foreign printed in Beveridge's Life of John

Relatione (folio ed.), ii, 153-182, 186- MarehaU, ii, 257-335. The best short

201, 204-238; writing*, papers, and account of this episode is in the "Notes"

memoirs of the American negotiators, to the TreaHe* and Convention* between

and Raymond Guyot's he Directoire et the United Statee and Other Power* (ed.

la Paix de V Europe (Paris, 1911), pp. 1873), p. 906.

669-566. Marshall's "Journal" de- *The Treaty of Campo Formio on

scribing his experiences in France is in October 17, 1797, placed the French

the "Pickering Papers" in the cabinet Republic in a distinctly better inter-

of the Massachusetts Historical So- national position,
dety. Large extracts from it are



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184 AN INTERLUDE [Ch. VII

The French government had tried to put pressure upon
America by ordering the seizure, sequestration, and con-
fiscation of American vessels bound to or from British ports
or having British goods on board. French privateers
swarmed in the Mediterranean and in the West Indies. 1
American vessels were captured in all directions and con-
fiscated wi th their cargoes. One of these was the schooner
Sally of Plymouth, Massachusetts. She was taken by a
French privateer while on her homeward voyage from
Demerara in July, 1798. All her crew, except the mate,
were taken out and seven Frenchmen put on board. A
week later, the mate, with a handspike, despatched the
whole prize crew with the exception of one man and brought
the schooner safely home. Insurance mounted to almost
prohibitory figures, being no less than forty pter cent of the
value of ship and cargo for a voyage to Jamaica and back.
Instead of convincing Americans of their helplessness, the
Frenchmen only aroused a desire to come to some agree-
ment with France like that which Jay had made with
England.

Up to this time Frenchmen, in office or out, had been
unable to take the Neutrality Proclamation seriously.
They had refused to believe that the action of the govern-
ment was approved by the people of the United States.
French principles had been extended to the smaller Eu-
ropean States, why should they not be propagated in Amer-
ica, — why should not America be freed from the yoke of
its rulers as Holland and Hamburg had been? In each one
of these also, the invaders or the saviours, whichever way
one might regard them, had gathered up all the loose coin
that there was and the Batavian Republic had also been

1 On August 25, 1798, Benjamin to eighty French privateers off Guada-
Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy, re- loupe and that eighty American vessels
ported that there were said to be sixty were blocked at Havana.



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1707] TALLEYRAND 185

compelled to hand over to the authorities at Paris several
million florins in the form of bonds which were known as
"Batavian rescriptions." About one-half of these Dutch
securities had been worked off on the Hamburgers at double
their real value as part of their city's contribution to the
finances of the Directory and of France. Among the
bankers who had handled these bonds was one Hottinguer,
who was assisted in the deal by an American living in
Hamburg^ named Bellamy, 1 and by Charles Maurice de
Talleyrand, once Abb6 of P6rigord and Bishop of Autun
and now foreign minister of France and later Prince de
Benevento. Like many another early revolutionist, Tal-
leyrand ' had fallen out with the Jacobins ; but unlike many
of his comrades, he had saved his head by timely departure.
At first he found shelter in England, but, being ordered
out of that country, came to America, which was then a
haven of refuge for Frenchmen of all grades and opinions.
After two years or so of exile, the fall of Robespierre made
it possible for him to return to France, but he had prudently
tarried at Hamburg for some months in order to make
certain of his reception at Paris. In July, 1797, he was
appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, but for a year was
hardly more than a clerk to the Directory.

In 1796, Pitt conceived the idea of making peace with
France, impelled thereto by the financial and social condi-
tions prevailing in England. His envoy, the Earl of Malmes-

1 The intimacy of Talleyrand and ity from him in asking for money for

Bellamy oomee out in a letter from Talleyrand's personal use.

Joseph Pitcairn, United States consul t See Beaufort's translation of Bro-

at Hamburg, to Rufus King, dated 29 glie's Memoir* of the Prince de TdUey-

June, 1798. He writes that Talleyrand rand, i, 109, 173, 187, 190. An

and Bellamy have made many bargains admirable brief and appreciative intro-

and the latter does not intend to per- ductory notice of Talleyrand by White-

mit the minister to sacrifice him. law Reid precedes the text of this

Bellamy admitted that he was not work. On May 19, 1794, he had taken

furnished with any writing from Tsl- an oath of allegiance to Pennsylvania

leyrand, but that he had clear author- and to the United States.



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186



AN INTERLUDE



[Ch. VII



bury, found the life of a diplomat at Paris very difficult,
for ttis footmen and coachmen had to wear thetri-color cock-
ade or keep off the streets. He returned to England in
one of the last days of December. The negotiations were
resumed at Lille in the summer of 1797. To that town
came agents from the Directory, of all sorts and degrees.
Their identities were concealed in the despatches under
the names of William, Henry, Edward, etc. One of them
is described as James Melvil, a "gentleman from Boston in
America." Malmesbury did not see him, but Melvil told
one of the embassy that he had recently negotiated a treaty
with Portugal whereby the Directors had gained a million
between them. He now offered for four hundred and fifty
thousand pounds sterling to secure the signature of Barras,
the first Director, to a treaty that would guarantee to
England the colonies which her seamen had seized. Malmes-
bury being deaf to these proposals, "Mr. Melvil of Bos-
ton in America" went to London to see Mr. Pitt. 1 The
Prime Minister thought well of the plan and wrote to the



1 Raymond Guyot has elucidated
this episode in his he Dtrectoire et la
Paix de V Europe, 1796-1799 (Paris,
1911), oh. xi, § vi. This part of his
study is based upon the archives at
Paris and also upon the papers of Lord
Gren ville {Dropmore Manuscripts) and of
William Pitt {Chatham Correspondence).
These two have been used to good pur-
pose by Professor Ephraim D. Adams
in his essay on The Influence of Qren-
ville on Pitt's Foreign Policy, 1787-1798
in the publications of the Carnegie In-
stitution. Ruf us King was informed of
this intrigue by some one who knew
the facts and he forwarded the infor-
mation to the commissioners at Paris.
See the Life and Correspondence of Ruf us
King, ii, 261, 262, and Diaries and Cor-
respondence of First Earl of Malmesbury,
iii, 250 and fol. It also appears from
entries in the Dropmore Manuscripts
(iii, 356, 360, 369, 378) and in the
Correspondence of Rufus King (i, 243)



that the members of the Directory in-
tended to share among themselves the
money that was obtained from Portugal
as they had already that which had been
procured from Naples. A table printed
in Beaufort's translation of Brogue's
Memoirs of Talleyrand, i, zviii note,
from Louis Bastide's biography of Tal-
leyrand, gives the amount of that states-
man's gains from foreign powers and
from speculations in the three years
following his return to Franoe, at over
fourteen million francs, and this amount
does not include his gains from specu-
lations at the time of Napoleon's ac-
cession to power. See also The Official
Correspondence relative to the Negoti-
ation for Peace, between Great Britain
and the French Republick, as laid before
both Houses of Parliament .(London,
1797) ; and Declaration of the Court of
Great Britain, respecting the late Negoti-
ation (London, 1797).



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1797] THE XYZ AFFAIR 187

king advocating it, even suggesting a mode by which the
money could be procured without the necessity of going to
Parliament. His Majesty had no objection to buying a
peace, but advised caution. The negotiations continued
for some time with other persons until Admiral Duncan's
victory over the Dutch off Camperdown made it quite un-
necessary to purchase Dutch colonies from the French, and
put an end to so many of Pitt's other anxieties that there
was no longer any thought of buying peace at any price.

Day after day, from October, 1797 onwards, the Ameri-
can commissioners at Paris waited for a communication
from the French government as to the date of their formal
reception and the beginning of negotiations. None came.



Online LibraryEdward ChanningA history of the United States → online text (page 17 of 51)